Skip to main content

Understanding Civic Unrest in Baltimore, 1968-2015

Resources (at Decker Library and elsewhere) for investigating the history of Baltimore, Baltimore '68 riots, and the Baltimore Uprising of 2015.

Freddie Gray memorial mural by artist Nether. Image by the artist and from Street Art NYC.

About This Guide

Please note that this guide is seldomly updated. The core resources were added in 2015. 

The purpose of this guide is for students, faculty, and interested parties to use the resources found here to investigate and understand civic unrest in Baltimore from 1968 through present day through library materials available at Decker Library, as well as resources available elsewhere.

About the History of Civic Unrest in Baltimore

Civil Rights protests took place in Baltimore City well before the better-known and violent sit-ins of the south during the 1960s. The city suffered under Jim Crow laws, where segregation was legal in housing, education, and employment. Baltimore's African American and Jewish residents protested theaters and other businesses, schools, and local government.

Following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968, Baltimore faced devastating civic unrest that left six people dead, dozens injured, and hundreds of properties (private and public) burned and shattered. The National Guard was deployed under orders of Governor Spiro Agnew and Army troops were deployed under President Lyndon Johnson.

About the Baltimore Uprising

On April 12, 2015, 25 year old Freddie Gray was arrested in West Baltimore after making eye contact with an officer and running in the opposite direction. While in police custody, Gray suffered a spinal cord injury that caused his death on April 19th. The police report indicates a knife was found clipped to the inside pocket of his pants after being arrested and that "The defendant was arrested without force or incident." The report continued, "during transport to Western District via wagon transport the defendant suffered a medical emergency and was immediately transported to Shock Trauma via medic." A video shot by a bystander as well as a separate surveillance video shows Gray being dragged to the police van. According to official accounts, he was placed face down on the floor with no seatbelt or other restraint. Unrest in the wake of Gray's death took place and on April 27th (day of Gray's funeral), when violence erupted at Mondawmin Mall. A large group of officers converged on the parking lot of the mall as students arrived. Unrest spread to other areas of the city and a city-wide curfew was set as well as a declared state of emergency. Six police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray were charged formally for his death by Baltimore's State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby on May 1st. On May 21st, a grand jury brought charges against all six officers.

Note when performing research: Some refer to this time period as "unrest," "Baltimore Uprising," and "Baltimore Riots."

Find Articles with Google Scholar

Google Scholar

About Google Scholar

Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the wrold of scholarly research.

Integration with Decker Library

Decker Library participates in Google's "Library Links" program -- a service which will add full-text links to Google search results and provide you with direct access to library resources. Enabling this service is easy -- after logging in to your MICA email, access Google Scholar, click the Settings button, then select "Library Links." You should see Maryland Institute College of Art as an option.

Find More with is the world's largest network of library content and services. lets you search many libraries at once for an item and then locate it in a library nearby. Find books, music, videos, audiobooks, research articles and more.

If you find materials held at another library, Decker Library could potentially request the item be given to us through interlibrary loan. The interlibrary loan service is done online, with most materials available in 1-2 weeks.

Core Research Databases - Find Articles

Core Research Databases - Find Articles
Below is an abbreviated list of research databases offered through Decker Library. These research databases offer articles, images, and data. To see more databases, take a look at the full list on our site. Your local public library card will grant you access to other databases as well.

Note: These databases are made available through Decker Library. You might be asked to login with your MICA username and password.

Decker Library Hours

Library staff are currently working remotely due to COVID-19. Take a look at our Current Operations page to learn more.

Decker Library at the Maryland Institute College of Art | Location: 1401 W. Mount Royal Ave., Baltimore, MD 21217 | Mailing: 1300 W. Mount Royal Ave., Baltimore, MD 21217

Research Help: 410-225-2273 / | General Questions: 410-225-2272 /

Decker on Facebook Decker on Instagram Decker on tumblr Decker on Twitter